Actor John Payne, star of televisions The Restless Gun, saw a future in James Bond. He acquired the rights to Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, and didn’t live long enough to see anything come of it.  Bond eventually became a big deal. There was a TV version of Casino Royale made ages ago in black and white (I have it on video thanks to Lee Goldberg), and a satire big screen version starring David Niven, Peter Sellers, and Orson Welles.
Now, Casino Royale is back – the new James Bond movie comes out November 17th.


Now, on other topics, let’s discuss Neil Diamond.

I have not seen him live for about twenty years….okay, fifteen. I first saw him back in the days of "Thank the Lord for the Nighttime" — then ten years later….here is a recent review of 64 Mr Diamond live!

NEIL Diamond is a
conundrum wrapped in a rhinestone riddle. On the one hand, he is one of
the greatest and most respected songwriters of all time, while on the
other, somewhat less welcome hand, he is a stubbornly uncool Vegas
schmaltz merchant who has spent the better part of his career
undermining his credibility with so much MOR camp it’s a wonder that
Siegfried and Roy haven’t had him stuffed.

Sadly and
inevitably, it was the ersatz Diamond we got in abundance last night, a
million gaudy light years from the brilliant denim-clad troubadour upon
whom his critical reputation rests.

Dressed like a gay
croupier, this stocky, greying sixtysomething could easily be mistaken
for Sydney Devine, twinkling cabaret mannerisms and all. But so
seasoned, so professionally insincere is he that you almost find
yourself championing the utter bombastic cheek of it all. Truly, his
professionalism is a marvel to behold.

Marvel as he does that
thing of earnestly reciting the first verse of a song like William
Shatner as Richard III serenading his toupee, inevitably followed by a
rousing rainstorm of applause. Diamond and audience played their parts
to perfection.

To an old hammy hand like Diamond, it’s a
ritual that he commands with implacable ease, like Brother Love
fleecing his throng for the billionth time. Sure, the majority of his
post-Seventies material is appalling – the worst kinds of unctuous MOR
muck – but how can anyone serve anything but complete reverence before
a man who can segue from Holly Holy to Sweet Caroline to I’m A
Believer, three of the greatest pop songs ever written? 

6 Responses to “CASINO ROYALE/Neil Diamond”

  1. Danny Barer

    So of the two Bond stories with rights owned by folks other than the Broccoli family, THUNDERBALL has been made twice (both versions starring Connery) and CASINO ROYALE will now have three versions. Perhaps some day the owners of the rights to CR and THUNDERBALL will team up, and create a movie where a casino-yacht is threatened with nuclear blackmail.

  2. dave zarkin

    My son Mike was a complete Diamond fan in the 80s and I took him to see the Neil at the Met Center in Bloomington which was demolished many years ago. We were in nose-bleed seats. I have original Diamond recordings on Bang that Mike gave me. When we saw Diamond he could really belt them out, “sweet caroline.” The old ladies who love him will never grow tired of his concerts no matter how shmaltzy. Diamond kept reinventing himself with standards and cowboy music. Don’t forget ITC movie “The Jazz Singer” with Diamond in lead. Bet you can’t find that one. Diamond fancied movie star fame but Jazz Singer pretty much sealed his fate. He was pals with a lot of pop music icons including Carole King, Babs Streisand and more. It was a great time to be in the music business.

  3. dave zarkin

    John Payne is fascinating. He is remembered as a handsome leading man at Fox but he started as a singer and is darn good when he got to sing in those Fox Sonja Heine musicals. He came from money and was smart enough to produce own lthe rights to his own movies in the 50s. His most famous role was in “Miracle on 34th Street” and Macy’s is grateful.


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